December 30, 2017 – 3:29 pm


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Click on the panels for a better view or to download jpg artwork.

Plus Natsuki Tamura with Simon Barker and Alister Spence
Sydney 2017 [no label, 2CD]

Live at Venue 505, Surry Hills, Sydney, Australia; May 18, 2017. Fairly to very good audience recording.

Click here: Listening To Fukushima

For one night only two of Japan’s most exciting improvisers and composers Satoko Fujii (piano) and Natsuki Tamura (trumpet) will join with the creative forces of Simon Barker (drums), and Alister Spence (Fender Rhodes electric piano and pedals). Over the last 20 years Fujii and Tamura have developed a strong individual music that spans many genres, blending jazz, contemporary classical, rock, and traditional Japanese music into an innovative synthesis instantly recognizable as theirs alone. Music that ranges from simple melodies of folk song, the harmonic sophistication of jazz, the rhythmic power of rock, and the extended forms of symphonic composers.

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John Shand,

There was a sense of depth here like you get staring into a Jackson Pollock painting: sound stacked upon sound stretching off to a dim infinity. The fact that just four musicians were layering the sonic canvas with these labyrinths only compounded the mystery.

Satoko Fujii (piano) and Natsuki Tamura (trumpet), two of Japan’s finest improvisers, were collaborating with Alister Spence (Fender Rhodes and devices) and Simon Barker (drums). All four have extended techniques and vocabularies at their disposal: an ability to stretch their instruments beyond recognition and generate sounds as surprising as a sane tweet from Trump.

The depth’s inky blackness was largely thanks to Spence’s piling up of electronic manipulations on even a single note of his electric piano. The downside was that this could become a sonic black hole swallowing some of Fujii’s ever-imaginative work at or inside the piano, but that was rare. At one point in the longer of the quartet’s two improvisations she escaped this fate by flecking the music’s surface with the sound of shattering glass from the piano’s extreme upper register. In the shorter improvisation she instead used sparseness and a luminous, nursery-rhyme-like melody that emerged from the thickets like a lost child from the bush.

Much of the foreground action came from the trumpet and drums. The night had begun with Tamura and Barker, who had never previously played together, duetting, and both then and in the later quartets (after an eerie duet between the two keyboard players) they exhibited an instant rapport, pouncing on each other’s ideas with obvious relish. Tamura could flit from the zany humour of squeezing squeaky toys to the maximum drama of his racing trumpet lines. These lit up Barker’s furious squalls as tracer fire does a night sky, and Barker continually opened up fresh options for all his collaborators, while injecting supercharged energy and constant surprises. As thrilling as these foregrounds were, that sense of infinite depth conjured by Spence’s mastery of electronics will not be quickly forgotten.

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In pianist-composer Satoko Fujii’s native Japan, reaching the age of 60 is traditionally so important that there’s a special word for the milestone - kanreki. It’s a moment to remember life’s accomplishments and to put former troubles behind you. The celebrant enters the next stage of life with the all joy and expectations of a newborn child. To celebrate her own 60th birthday, Fujii, already a prolific bandleader with more than 80 releases to her name, will intensify her recording schedule, releasing one CD a month for all of 2018. Rather than using her kanreki year to look back at a career that has spanned more than 30 years, Fujii will emphasize new works for current projects, debut special projects, and introduce new working bands in an unprecedented 12-month spree of new releases. “I probably should think and notice that I am not young anymore,” she says, “but I just keep doing what I want to do.”

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Thanks to Vierstein91 for sharing the show at Dime.

edirol r-09hr > 24/48 > wavepad sound editor > 16/44 > tlh > flac16

Click on the highlighted tracks to download the MP3s (320 kbps). As far as we can ascertain, these tracks have never been officially released on CD.

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Disc 1
Set 1: Tamura/Barker (trumpet and drums)
Track 101. intro by Peter Nelson 1:02
Track 102. improvisation 25:59

Set 2: Fujii/Spence (piano and Fender Rhodes electric piano + pedals)
Track 103. intro by Peter 0:57
Track 104. improvisation 24:49
Track 105. outro by Satoko 1:00
54 mins

Disc 2
Set 3: Fujii/Tamura/Spence/Barker
Track 201. intro by Peter 1:09
Track 202. intro by Alister 1:25
Track 203. improvisation 23:30
Track 204. Alister speaks 1:41
Track 205. improvisation 8:12
36 mins

Satoko Fujii - piano
Natsuki Tamura - trumpet
Simon Barker - drums
Alister Spence - Fender Rhodes electric piano + pedals

Click here to order Satoko Fujii and Natsuki Tamura’s releases.

  1. 2 Responses to “SATOKO FUJII - SYDNEY 2017”

  2. Thanks a million for this. These two are among the finest musicians in jazz / improvised music these days. She’s been recording since the mid 1990s. She was a protegee of Paul Bley’s and her first album had a series of duets with him. She’s released about 80 albums on her own label. I have about 50 of them and there’s not a bad one in the bunch. And they show her range, even broader than described above. Are there any broadcasts of Natsuke’s band Gato Libre where Fujii plays accordion?
    Looking forward to listening to this. Thanks Big O.

    By treborij on Jan 2, 2018

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  2. Dec 30, 2017: bigOfeature » Blog Archive » LISTENING TO FUKUSHIMA

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